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How To Forgive Yourself

I was supposed to have another blog out last Wednesday about the difference between guilt and responsibility.  It would help with understanding how you can forgive. Because so much of forgiveness is taking responsibility for your future and not waiting around for someone else to take care of you, you need to know to taking responsibility doesn’t mean you’re guilty. But I’m guilty of saying I’d get it done and then not doing it.

I need to forgive myself. I would rather watch stupid movies on HULU then get to work. After I’ve accepted this fact, I can forgive myself, change my expectations, and move on.

Forgiveness is a verb. Here’s the actions I’ve taken so that I can do something better with my time than feel bad about who I am.

Change my expectations. It would be great if I was a workaholic who wanted to wake up in the morning and get going immediately. But get real, I want coffee, I’d like heavy whipping cream in it, and unless I’m listening to music, I’m not even awake yet. I’m the girl who makes it to the 5 AM workout but may come home and go back to bed.  To actually deal with who I am and make things happen, I need to accept I’m not who I wish I was. That is forgiveness.  I see the difference between what I wish and what I have, and instead of demanding that I become what I wish, I accept who I am.

Get moving. Once I know that I’m not that workaholic who’s going to turn out the Great American novel next week, I can set more realistic expectations for myself. I will be more likely to keep to expectations that are in line with who I am. Part of forgiveness, is to move forward. If I say I forgive myself, but I don’t do anything different, what have I really done?  I work best in short spurts, with a cup of coffee and a time limit.  I set up the situation to reflect this new knowledge.

Appreciate.  I look for successes no matter how small and pat myself on the back.  The process of forgiveness implies that I’m trying to like myself.  When I like people, I say nice things about them.  Can you say nice things about yourself?  Forgive yourself for how negative you are, by saying good things about you.  It’s a verb, not an emotion.  You’ll feel good later, get to appreciating now.

Do it now.  Later is where we put the dreams we’re willing to kill.  If you will forgive yourself later, you won’t actually get it done.  Since it’s a verb, you have to DO good things for yourself, and do them today.  If you are truly willing to forgive, how will you be kind to yourself right now?

Don’t forget.  Only God forgets what He forgives.  If you try that, it’ll be like wrapping your head around a tree.  Remember all you want to as long as you learn from it, change a behavior, appreciate your success, do or think something kind about yourself, and be done.

Just to be repetitive!

  1. Accept yourself  & make a new expectation based on what you learned.
  2. Change a behavior based on the new expectation.
  3. Appreciate every little success and search for good things about yourself.
  4. Do a good thing for yourself now.  Later is never.
  5. Remember the bad and keep doing the good.  You’ll verb yourself into better feelings about you.

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Lorinne is a practicing therapist in Billings, Montana. She graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1995 with a master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. She has worked with emotionally disturbed children, victims of sexual and domestic abuse, families in crisis and women in transition ever since.

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